The following are some of the most popular questions and answers related to Best Computer Speakers:
Q) What is the difference between a good speaker and a great one?
A) There is no such thing as “great” or “good”. All speakers have their own strengths and weaknesses. They all have their own sound signature. If you listen carefully, they will tell you what kind of music it is. However, there are certain things which make a speaker stand out from others. These include:
1) Frequency response (the range of frequencies that the speaker can reproduce).
This determines how clear and natural your voice sounds when you speak into it. Some speakers have better frequency response than others.
2) Impedance (how much resistance the speaker puts up against external noise).
This affects how loud the speaker gets when you play music through them. Higher impedance speakers tend to get louder, while lower impedance ones tend to get quieter.
3) Volume control (whether the volume knob on the front of the speaker allows you to adjust its output level).
Most speakers have a switchable volume control, but not all do.
4) Bass response (how well the speaker reproduces low frequencies).
This is measured in decibels (dB), where 0 dB is completely silent and 100 dB is equal to a jet taking off. Speakers with a higher bass response measure are able to play low-frequency sounds better than those with lower bass response measures.
5) Sensitivity (how loud the speaker gets for a given electrical input).
This is measured in decibels (dB), where 0 dB is complete silence and 100 dB means your ears will start hurting if you listen to it for too long. Most high-quality speakers have a sensitivity of around 90 dB or higher.
Q) What is the best way to select computer speakers?
A) The best way to pick computer speakers is to buy speakers that suit your tastes. Given a choice, most people prefer speakers that have a high volume output (whether that is measured in watts or decibels or anything else), good bass response, and are not very expensive. In other words, they want speakers that have a lot of bang for buck. The opposite would be speakers that have a low volume output, bad bass response, and are very expensive. The choice is ultimately yours.
Q) What are some of the best built-in speakers?
A) The best built-in speakers that I have come across are the ones in the Apple iMac (entry level and mid-range versions). They provide good stereo separation (i.e. the sound is not all coming from in the middle) and the subwoofer on the mid-range version provides passable bass. I use the built-in speakers on my iMac for watching DVDs on iTunes, and they sound surprisingly good. The built-in speakers on some of the HP Pavilion desktop PCs are pretty good as well.
Q) What makes a speaker expensive?
A) The price of a speaker mainly reflects the materials that have gone into its construction and how well-known the brand is. Some of the most expensive speakers in the world are manufactured by companies like KEF, B&W, and Paradigm, which are renowned for their craftsmanship. There is no clear or distinct cut-off point between budget and high-end speakers. Instead, you will find a continuous spectrum of prices that gradually decrease as manufacturing costs decrease. For example, consider the paradigm v.7 vs cinema 1000fp. Both are paradigm speakers in different price ranges. The paradigm v.7 retails for about $400 and the cinema 1000fp for about $200. Their sizes are also different, with the v.7 being larger. Even though the cinema 1000fp is way cheaper than the v.7, it is still a very good speaker that sounds much better than any built-in computer speaker. If you had to choose between the two speakers based solely on price and sound quality, it would not be an easy decision.
Q) What do watts mean?
A) The power of an audio speaker is quantified in watts. However, this is a misleading specification because manufacturers tend to inflate it. There is no official standard on how wattage ratings should be quantified, so many manufacturers (including some high-end brands) tend to exaggerate their wattage ratings by up to 20% or more. So if a manufacturer states that their speakers have a 1000 watt output, it might only be 800 watts in reality.
Q) What is a decibel?
A) The decibel (dB) is the unit of measurement for volume. It is a logarithmic scale, which is to say that large numbers on the decibel scale correspond to small changes in volume. The threshold of pain, for example, is around 130 dB. A normal conversation is somewhere around 60dB. Car horns are around 110dB. Rock concerts are around 120dB. Jet Engines are around 150dB.
Q) What is the loudest speaker you have ever heard?
A) That would be the Krix Karn Series 4000. I heard these at a specialty audio store called The Audio Salon in Los Angeles, California. They are very expensive and retail for around $6000 per speaker. They also require external amplification, which can bring the overall price to around $10,000 or more. If you have that kind of money to blow, then you probably don’t need to read this guide!
Q) Why do some speakers make my feet tingle?
A) This is a very good question. I have heard the same speakers that you have and I can honestly say that my feet haven’t tingled. This might be a problem with your listening environment. Make sure that there are no concrete walls behind you because sound cannot permeate through it. Sound also gets dampened if there is a solid object between the speakers and your ears. So make sure that the speakers are not placed behind a wall or large piece of furniture. It also helps to not situate the speakers on the floor because concrete tends to absorb a lot of high-end frequencies, which makes the bass and lower mids sound muddy. If these tips don’t work, then you might have an allergic reaction to the speakers.
Q) What are speaker cones made out of?
A) Most speakers have their cones made out of paper. More expensive speakers usually have their cones made out of kevlar, aluminum, or silk. There is a misconception that speaker cones should be made out of paper because it is the cheapest material. This is simply not true. Although it is the cheapest material to use in large quantities, it is also the least durable and requires the most maintenance. For example, if you were to make a speaker cone out of aluminum, it would require very little maintenance because aluminum does not rust. It would also last nearly forever as long as you treat it well. If you were to make a speaker cone out of kevlar, it would be more expensive than the aluminum alternative, but it would also be more durable and less prone to damage. The same idea goes for silk. There is no material that is better than the other. It all depends on how much you’re willing to spend.
Q) I just blew my speaker.
What do I do?
A) Don’t worry, this happens to everyone at one time or another. It usually happens for one of two reasons. The first reason is overdriving your speaker, which just means playing music at a level that is too loud or of a difficult nature for your speaker to handle. The second reason is physical damage to the speaker itself. This could be from dropping the speaker, throwing your amplifier into overdrive, or some other act of idiocy. In any case, you’ll need to get yourself a new speaker.
Q) How do I hook up my new speaker?
A) This is actually pretty easy. There are two types of speakers you can buy, active and passive. Active speakers have their own built in amplifier, requiring only power and a signal to drive them. Passive speakers do not have an amplifier and require external amplification. Most speakers you get will be of the active variety because they tend to be cheaper. This means you will have to provide your own amplifier. Most home stereos have an extra output specifically for this purpose. Check your manual to see if your receiver has one. If it doesn’t, then you’ll have to get an external one. The next step is hooking the speaker up to the amplifier. You will need to solder the signal wire (usually yellow), the power wire (red or black), and the ground wire(usually green or bare copper) to the appropriate places. Once again, check your user manual for specific instructions on this, as each brand and model may be different.
Q) What kind of music do you listen to?
A) I listen to a wide variety of music. Anything from Bach to the Beastie Boys. If you want recommendations for what speakers or headphones to get, I may be able to help you depending on what kind of music you like.
Q) What do the different colors of speaker wires mean?
A) This is a common question and there are a few different answers I’ve seen online. The best answer however is to simply match the wire to the terminal. For example, if you have a red speaker wire, then you hook it up to the red terminal. It really is that simple. Don’t be afraid to interchange the wires though. If you’re poking around the back of your stereo with a red wire in hand and you find a blue terminal, go ahead and give it a try.
Q) I’m looking for a new set of speakers.
What kind do you have?
A) I personally use and recommend the Pioneer SP-BS21-LR Andrew Jones Designed Floorstanding Loudspeakers. I’ve read that many people consider this to be the best speaker under $200.
Q) What are my options for an amplifier?
A) Your main options for an amplifier are a stereo receiver or a mini-amp. A multi-channel receiver will allow you to hook up multiple speakers in different rooms, but it won’t provide as good of quality. A mini-amp will give you better sound quality, but you’ll have to hook up each speaker individually.
Q) How do I use my mini-amp with my external speakers?
A) You’ll need to connect the left channel to the left speaker and the right channel to the right speaker. If you’re only using one speaker, then you can hook up one wire to the “+” terminal and the other wire to the “-” terminal. If you’re using multiple speakers, then you’ll have to bridge a connection somewhere in-between the left and right channels. You’ll have to play around with it a bit to get it right.
Q) I want to use my mini-amp for my computer speakers.
What do I need?
A) All you need is a set of RCA cables to hook your computer up to your amp. Most computers and laptops have a standard “line out” and this will connect right to your amplifier. Just make sure you adjust the volume on your computer and your amplifier.
Q) I’ve hooked my external speakers up to my mini-amp, but there is no sound.
What is wrong?
A) There could be a few problems. First, make sure that your amplifier is getting power. Second, make sure that you have your amplifier set on the correct input source. For example, some amps have a special “Phono” input that is for a record player. Check your manual to see which input you need. Finally, make sure that your speakers are working. You can do this by plugging in headphones into the amplifier and turning the volume up full blast. If you hear sound, then your speakers are working.
Q) What kind of amplifier should I get?
A) It depends on what you’re going to be connecting to it.
Do you have a turntable that you want to hook up?
Get a “Phono” amplifier.
Connecting to speakers?
You can get a regular amplifier. The options are many and varied. Do your research before buying one.
Q) I’m interested in getting a Mini-Amp to power my computer speakers, but I don’t know what wattage to get. The computer speaker’s wattage rating is 10W.
What should I get?
A) If 10W is the maximum rating for your speakers, then you don’t need a very powerful amplifier. A 10W amp will work just fine.
Q) I’ve hooked up my speaker to my mini-amp, but there is no sound.
What could be wrong?
A) First check to make sure that the wires are hooked up correctly. Make sure that the red wire is connected to the red terminal and so on. If that doesn’t work, then you’ll need to get it checked out by a professional.
Q) I’ve connected my speakers to my mini-amp, but there is still no sound. A) Make sure that your amplifier is getting power. Check the outlet with a lamp or other device to make sure it’s working.
If your amp does not work, you’ll have to get it checked out by a professional.
Q) I plugged my headphones into my iPhone and can hear sound, but when I plug them into my amp there is no sound. A) Your amp requires a special plug that the headphone plug won’t fit into. Get an 1/8″ to 1/4″ adapter.
Q) There is a loud hum coming from my speakers when I plug them into my mini-amp. A) This could be an indication of a short in your speakers or your amplifier. Try changing the input on your amplifier to see if the hum changes.
If it does, then your amplifier is busted and you’ll have to get it looked at by a professional. If the hum is the same on all inputs, then it’s your speakers and you’ll have to get a new set.
Q) I’m buying a mini-amp from eBay or Amazon, how do I know if it’s any good?
A) You don’t. There are plenty of fakes on eBay and Amazon. There is no way to know if the reviews are real or if the product is any good. The best way to avoid getting a fake or defective product is to deal with authorized dealers. If you can’t find one on their website, just look elsewhere.
Q) What’s the difference between an integrated amp and a regular one?
A) Integrated amplifiers combine the pre-amp and power amp into one unit. This means that there is only one main unit as opposed to a separate pre-amp and power amp. Personally, I would avoid integrated amps since they tend to be poorly made. They are also much harder to repair when something goes wrong.
Q) What is the difference between a pre-amp and a power amp?
A) A pre-amp controls the gain (or volume) of the incoming signal from things like microphones and musical instruments. The pre-amp then sends the signal to a power amp which amplifies the signal so that the speakers can play it back as sound.
Q) I want to hook my guitar up to my home theater system, is this possible?
A) It sure is!
Sources & references used in this article:
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System and method for providing speaker-specific records of statements of speakers by M Chandler, D Altman – US Patent 6,477,491, 2002 – Google Patents
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